Sales of frozen blueberry have increased by 79% and 116% in the weeks ending March 14 and 21, respectively, compared with 52% and 118% recorded by the frozen products overall, Nielsen data shows. Still, blueberry is the only berry reporting higher stocks than one year ago, while stocks of strawberry and raspberry are 33% and 29% below 2019’s figures, respectively. According to February figures, the latest available, frozen blueberry stocks were 215.8m, 10% below January’s 240.3m pounds, but still above 148.6m pounds in February 2019.
It’s important to state that the current closure of foodservice should have a smaller impact on the sector, as it is more focused on retail, but restrictions on purchasable items and movement might flatten demand for high-value products such as blueberries.
“Frozen was already doing 22% better, then it was 80% better, now it’s doing 117% better”, Kasey Cronquist, president of North American Blueberry Council (NABC) and US Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) said, according to the International Blueberry Organization (IBO). “The volume, the velocity of the product moving through the supply to consumers, is happening just through one channel, and unfortunately the foodservice channel has been largely shut off. What we understand is happening is there was this run-up, this drive of consumption when the hoarding went on, and now we’re starting to see the non-return to the store. It’s just been a remarkable pace of consumption, and now the consumer behavior that follows is what we’ve been really trying to focus on understanding.”